How To Take The Perfect Coffee Shot (With Multiple Exposures)

I was at starbucks the other day and saw this cool looking Mug, and was thinking that this was the perfect mug to practice my product shots. I already had the shot I wanted, but the problem was I didn’t have enough coffee beans to cover the table. So, what I did was take multiple shots and moved the coffee beans from one shot to the next, until I got the whole table full of coffee. Here is how you do it…

Final Shot

The Setup Shot

It is crucial to use a tripod and keep all the photos perfectly aligned. In my case, I was using a D7000 on a tripod and was shooting at f2 at ISO 250 using an 85mm lens for that shallow depth of field look. My main light was an sb-600 thru a softbox @ 1/16. Then a silver reflector at the right side to fill the shadows a bit.

Setup Shot

The Shots

I pre-focused my camera on the logo and moved to manual focus to keep everything constant. I started with the beans in front of the cup and moved them until I reached the very end of the table, taking one picture foe each area covered. It took me 5 shots to fill the whole table with beans.

Multiple Shots


For the Photoshop work, I started with the bottom beans and put the image on top of each other. Then it was a simple job of erasing away the un-beaned areas from eahc layer. I used a soft brush with te earaser to create better transitions.

Photoshop 1

Before and After shot of the layers

Photoshop Before and After

For finishing touches, I added a little bit of vignette and adjusted the layers and a bit of burn and dodge for the post processing.

Dodging and Burning Photoshop

Final Shot

Final Shot


  • Mark Cann

    I like the idea and the process but why erase in Photoshop surely it’s better to work non destructively and use layer masks instead?

    Either way I’ll be giving it a go, maybe using Lego block instead of coffee beans

    • Jim Johnson

      I agree with you in principle, but in this case, it doesn’t matter. I can’t imagine a situation where you will need the pixels of the table (why would you put the table back in?). Erasing those pixels could dramatic speed up processing on a slow machine.

      For me, it is like deleting unused shots. I have to weigh the likelihood I will use those images vs. how much space they take up. Most of the time I leave them on the hard drive in case I revisit the shoot, but there are some shots I just won’t ever need for any reason.

  • DS

    Two words… layer masks. Never erase in Photoshop, there’s absolutely no reason to.

  • Rick

    Laya, thank you for… spilling the beans on how you did this.. 😉

    • LSG

      Cheers! :)

  • Jeff

    Buy more beans.